Scientists develop vaccine that beats all types of flu and is 90% effective
British scientists have developed a vaccine that could protect against all forms of flu.
Dubbed the holy grail of flu treatments, the jab would fight off everything from a winter virus to a bird flu outbreak.
Two injections, given a month apart, could give long-lasting immunity, in contrast to the current jab, which has to be given every year.
The jab, which has been developed by Cambridge-based firm, Acambis, may also be more effective then the current vaccine, which only protects three-quarters of those who receive it.
The universal flu jab, which has just been tested on people for the first time, is also quicker and easier to make, meaning vast quantities could be stockpiled against a global outbreak of bird flu.
The current version is grown in hen’s eggs – a time-consuming process that yields one shot of vaccine per egg; in contrast, the new vaccine is grown in huge vats with only two pints of liquid providing 10,000 doses.
Flu kills up to 12,000 Britons each year, many of them elderly. But a pandemic of the human form of bird flu – which many believe is inevitable – could claim 700,000 lives in the UK alone.
Normally, the vaccine would have to go through another five years of human trials before going on the market.
However, if a bird flu pandemic occurs, it could be made available more quickly.
Professor Ian Jones, a University of Reading virologist, warned that the jab could take years to come to the market, saying: ‘The fact that the vaccine is safe and appears to raise protective antibodies is very encouraging although larger trials and tests on a wider range of viruses will be needed before the full potential for pandemic protection can be assured.’